The next day, we got up early so we could be on our way by daylight. It was going to be a very long day. I wanted to take the good half ton truck as well as the big U-Haul one, but Jude vetoed it. “I don't want you driving that much, luv. It wasn't all that long ago that you almost died.”
“All right, Jude.”
“Can we put a trailer on the back of the truck if we can find one?”
“Yes, there's a hitch on it. U-Haul probably has some trailers.”
“Then let's find the U-Haul place and get one. Did you want to get more than the truck will hold?”
“No, but you want to get medications. I figure while we're there, we might as well grab as many as we can. Especially if there's still no sign of other people that might need them. Though Toronto is a huge city, we'd never clean out all of it's pharmacies.”
Molly and Sherlock were thrilled to be on the road again. They sure liked to travel. I drove part way there, then Jude insisted on taking the wheel. “I don't want you to get over tired, Julia.”
“It's only driving, Jude. I'm not slinging cases of canned goods around.”
“Doesn't matter, I'm the doctor here and I call the shots.” I sighed, but pulled over so that we could switch places. When we met at the front of the truck, he gave me a hug. “I know it's hard, luv, but I really do know what I'm talking about.” He pulled away and looked me in the eye, then kissed me on the forehead.
“I know, Jude. You are very sweet. I'm just not used to this. I'm used to being able to do whatever I want.”
“I realize that, Julia. It's hard to adjust to having a chronic condition that can limit your activity. I know you are trying to be good. On the way home after being gone all day, you will be glad to let me drive.”
We decided to do the drug stores first, after getting a trailer to put the medications in. Fortunately,I had a bit of knowledge of the city, which helped us navigate our way around. I felt that downtown would be the best place to go as it had been densest for population and would have more pharmacies in a small area. It was weird to travel down Yonge St. with no other vehicles on the road and seeing no people, just some animals such as raccoons and skunks. No deer, though. Probably because there was very little grass. Coons and skunks will live on people food, even though it's not exactly healthy for them.
I'd brought the crow bar again, and used it to pry open doors that were locked. I didn't want to smash the glass, as then wild animals would get in. I wanted to keep the stores as is as much as possible - of course, mice and rats would get into any stores with food - in case of other survivors needing to get things out of them. We only took some of each drug so as not to leave anyone without medication they needed, though both of us had our doubts about there being many more survivors.
I insisted on driving us out of the downtown and drove by some landmarks so that Jude could see them, the most famous being the CN Tower. I also drove by Skydome, home of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and finally, the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) grounds, where Ben and I showed our heifers and cows at the annual Royal Winter Fair every November. I sat there wistfully for a few minutes before pulling away and heading back the way we'd come. We had got enough meds. It was about 3pm - we'd made excellent time going through the drug stores. At the outskirts of the city, Jude took the wheel again and drove us to the warehouse. We wanted to be out of there by dark but it didn't look like that was going to happen as it was fall and the sun was setting earlier. We'd brought some big flashlights and used the headlights on the truck to see our way around.
Jude tried to stop me from doing much, but he knew that he needed my help if we were to get home at a reasonable hour. While we had come prepared to stay the night, we talked it over on our way to the warehouse and our preference was to go home. He wanted to be where he had his medical equipment should I need it and I just wanted to be home. So he let me stack the cases of goods in the back of the truck after he lifted them onto it. He wouldn't let me stack more than 5 deep. “We can fill the truck with 5 deep and still have more than we need for the winter, luv.”
Finally, we were on our way home. I was told I was not allowed to drive at all. Secretly, I was glad and admitted Jude was right when he'd said I would be glad to let him drive. I was exhausted and slept part way home. When we got there, he said “Leave the truck overnight. We can unload tomorrow or the next day. I'll check on the animals, you go in and go to bed.” We had eaten our supper - which was sandwiches we'd packed to bring with us - in the truck on the way back. We'd done the same with lunch - eaten in the truck on our way from Toronto to the warehouse.
I went into the house and fed the dogs, even though we'd shared our supper with them. Then I washed up and collapsed on my bed without getting undressed. I fell asleep right away. I awoke a few minutes later to Jude gently shaking me. “You can't sleep like that, Julia. Get into your night gown, then under the covers.
“I'm okay”, I mumbled and tried to turn over but a hand on my legs stopped me.
“Come on, luv. I'll help you.” He got my nightgown from the dresser. “Sit up while I get your top and bra off.”
“Jude! Give me some privacy!”
“Julia, I'm a doctor. You don't have anything I haven't seen before.”
“But you haven't seen *mine*!”
“Oh, yes I have. How do you think you ended up in your night gown when I brought you home almost dead from that farm?”
Oh, yeah. I'd forgotten about that. I let him undress me and put my night gown on. Then I got up and under the covers. Jude layed down beside me on the hospital bed. He wrapped his arm around me and held me close. The dogs had already taken their place – and his - on his bed. “Good night, luv”, he said. “Get a good rest.”
“Oh, Jude. You can't be comfortable sleeping like this.”
“I'm very comfortable, Julia. But if you want me out of your bed, I'll go.”
“It's not that at all. I'm just concerned about your comfort.”
“Don't be. I'm fine.” He kissed me on the top of my head. Now go to sleep.”
What was he doing? Why is he sleeping in my bed? I wondered. I knew the dogs were sprawled out on his bed, but he could make them move.
“Julia, what's wrong? You are very tense. Julia?” I didn't answer. “If you are worried about me being in your bed, don't be, luv. I'm not coming on to you, nor will I.”
“You aren't attracted to me, Jude?” I turned over to look at him.
“Now, that's a loaded question.”
“If I say yes, you will think I'm trying to come on to you. If I say no, you will think you're unattractive.”
“Just say the truth.”
“Yes, I am attracted to you, Julia. Very much so. But I said I won't make a move on you and I won't. You will let me know if and when you are ready for something to happen between us. In the meantime, I'm happy to be friends. If you want me to get out of your bed, I will.”
“No, Jude. You stay right here. Don't disturb the king and queen over there on your bed.”
“I know you have not slept well lately, Julia. I hear you tossing and turning. I thought maybe you'd sleep better with me beside you, like you did that night on the sofa.”
“I did sleep pretty good that night.”
“Yes, you did.”
“You are a sweetheart, Jude.”
“You are a lovely lady, Julia. I know you are trying to work through your grief. You will get through it, luv. When the time is right. Now, turn over and get some sleep. We both need it.” He turned off the lamp.
I slept like a log that night. Either it was because I was utterly exhausted or because of Jude being beside me, holding me in his arms. I felt I wasn't being fair to him, letting him kiss me – even if it was only on the forehead or head – and sleep in my bed, knowing he was so attracted to me. He was being so patient, waiting for me to get over Ben.
I had woken up before him – a rare event – and layed there in his arms thinking of these things. I wondered if I was using Ben as an excuse to not get close to Jude – or anyone. Not that there was anyone else around. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I *was* using Ben as an excuse. I knew that if it was just a romp in the hay, I'd do Jude in a minute. He was warm, kind, caring and gentle. He was a fair bit older than me, but who cares? In this new world of ours, humans seemed to be very scarce. I'd be a fool to let age get in the way. Would that be fair to him, though? He deserved someone who could give him her all. I didn't yet know if I could do that. I was so conflicted.
Jude stirred and Sherlock gave out a yip, his way of saying he needed to go out. I was penned in by the rail on one side and Jude on the other, so I couldn't get up. I turned over and gently shook him by the shoulder. “Either you need to get out of bed and let the dogs out or I have to climb over you to do it”, I said to him as he opened his eyes.
“I'll do it, Julia. You don't need to be doing something like that and then falling onto the floor. I'll go feed the livestock, too.” He got up and put his clothes on over his undergarments and made his way out to the kitchen. I got up and went to the bathroom, then proceeded directly back to bed, where I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow. I was still exhausted.
I woke up a while later when Jude got back into the bed with me. I lifted my head. “It's just me, luv. I figure if you are going to be lazy all day, I might as well be, too.”
“I should be getting up.”
“No, luv. I'm just teasing you. You had a long day yesterday and you need your rest. I had a long day, too and I'm feeling it. I'm not as young as I used to be.”
“Jude, am I being fair to you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Letting you sleep in my bed.”
“You mean, knowing that I am attracted to you?”
“You aren't being unfair, Julia. I am choosing to sleep here.”
“I know you would like more from me, Jude.”
“I want what you are willing – and able – to give. If that is never anything more than friendship, that is fine. Now, let's get some more sleep.” I rested my head on his shoulder and he kissed my forehead before we both fell back to sleep.
The next day, we went apple picking as he'd promised we'd do. I knew he would have preferred to wait a while longer, but our window of opportunity would not be open much longer. The nights were getting pretty cool and once we had a frost, the apples would be ruined.
Jude did not want me picking any, but I insisted. I did agree to stay on the ground and not climb any trees. We ended up getting 4 bushels – more than enough to get us through the winter and next summer until apple season came around again. “I don't know why I let you talk me into this, Julia”, he said to me. “The last time a woman had me wrapped around her little finger, I ended up marrying her.” He winked to show he was teasing.
“There's nobody around to perform a ceremony”, I teased right back.
“You've got me there, luv.”
Before heading for home, we found some squash and pumpkins in a field at the orchard. Of course, I insisted on picking as many as we could. This was a huge bonus, I figured we now had enough to get through the winter.
When we got home, Jude insisted on leaving the truck to be unloaded the next day. “Let's at least get the apples into the back porch, Jude. That way, wild animals won't be helping themselves. We can put the truck in the horse barn after getting the apples off of it.”
“Why not leave them if we're going to put the truck inside?”
“I don't want the cow to break her stall down trying to get at the apples.”
“Cows eat apples?”
“Yes, they love them. But besides her eating our fruit, I don't want her to get choke.”
“When food gets stuck in the esophagus. It can happen if the animal doesn't chew it well enough and swallows big chunks. Cows don't chew a lot when they initially eat, as you probably know. They eat fast, then bring it up to chew later. That's fine with grass, hay or grain. But not with something like apples. And there are no veterinarians around to save her if that happens.”
“So we can't share our bounty with her?”
“Oh, we can – as long as we cut it up into very small pieces. We should go back to the orchard tomorrow and get some of the grounders for her.”
“We will not! We are going to rest for the next few days, at least. Is there anything else we need to do to prepare for winter?”
“Not very much, just get some odds and ends, like flour and sugar. The winter tires are still on the vehicles from last year and the snowplow is on the other truck.”
“How are you going to get the tires changed in the spring with no mechanics?”
“Do you think we took our vehicles to a mechanic to put winter tires on?”
“I should have known.”
“Farmers needed to be self sufficient. We couldn't afford to be spending money on things we could learn to do ourselves. Okay, let's get these apples off the truck and get supper going. I'm starved.”
“You let me unload the truck. Go inside and rest or if you insist, start supper.”
“One of us needs to milk the cow. I need to make butter tomorrow.”
“Are you okay to do that? I'd rather you milk than unload these bushels of apples.”
“Yes, I'm fine to do it. My foot feels so much better.”
“I want to x-ray it in a few days to see if it's healed yet.”
Over supper, I brought up the subject of Thanksgiving, which was a week away. “It's not Thanksgiving until November, luv.”
“No, Jude. We're in Canada. Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October.”
“Oh. I didn't know that. Did you want to do something for it?”
“I think so. We have a lot to be thankful for, even though it may not seem like it.”
“You're right, Julia, we do. We're alive when almost all of mankind isn't. And we have warm shelter and food to get us through the coming winter.”
“And we have each other, Jude.” I smiled at him.
“Yes, we do. It would be a pretty lonely apocalypse without you, luv. What would you like to do to celebrate?”
“I'd like to get a turkey to cook.”
“Isn't there one in one of the freezers?”
“Yes, but I'd like to keep it for Christmas. I probably won't want to hunt in the cold and snow.”
“I'd rather you not hunt now.”
“I don't have to do it today. It can wait a few days. In fact, it's better not to do it this far ahead, as I'd have to freeze it.”
“Good. You need to rest for a while.”
“I'm not arguing with that, Jude. I'm exhausted. And we can celebrate the American Thanksgiving in November if you want.”
“That's very kind of you, Julia, but one is enough. I like it being earlier anyway.”
The next day, Jude humoured me and went back to the apple orchard and picked up a bushel of “grounders” - apples that had fallen on the ground. They are good for making apple sauce, butter etc. He would not let me go with him. When he got back, he took most of our apples and squash (remember, pumpkin is a squash) down to the basement. I kept the grounders upstairs and made apple sauce, which I canned. I also made some butter and showed him how to use the churn. I'd make apple butter another day. After doing all that, I was beat so I slept most of the rest of the day and didn't wake up until around 7pm.
Jude had supper ready and was keeping it on warm. He insisted that I stay in bed and brought my meal to me. He brought his in, too, so we could eat together. When he brought the hospital bed home, he also brought one of those tables on wheels that patients have, so he set my supper on that and he used a tv tray and sat on the side of his bed. The dogs thought this was a great thing – our meals within *their* reach and jumped up first on his bed, then on mine, seeking hand-outs. I finally had to order them to get down onto the floor and lay down. Neither Jude nor I would put up with begging. They would get a little bit of ours once we were done but not until then.
After we ate, Jude brought coffee in and sat on my bed to drink his with me. “Tomorrow is a day of rest for both of us, luv. We are not doing anything that isn't part of our daily routine. Just getting our meals and taking care of the critters.”
“I'm not going to argue with that, Jude. I'm still tired.”
“You've been over doing it, Julia. That's why you need a good rest. In a couple days, I will go to town and get what you need. Give me a list and I will try to get you everything on it.”
“I'll be able to go in a couple days.”
“Julia, luv – who is the doctor here?”
“You are, Jude.”
“Exactly. And I say you are to stay home and rest. Finding you near death once was enough. I don't want to do it a second time.”
“I'm sorry, Jude”, I said, almost in a whisper. He set his mug down on the table, then set mine down and pushed it away from the bed.
“Come here, luv”, he said as he sat closer to me and put his arms around me. “Like I have said before, I know it's not easy adjusting to a serious medical condition. You are doing well, though. You're starting to do what I say, even if you give me a bit of a hard time at first.”
“That's because I don't have the strength to fight.” We both laughed.
“I'm going to go wash the dishes”, Jude said as he got up. He turned around and faster than you could think about it, he had the bed rail up, trapping me in.
“What's that for?” I asked him.
“To make sure you stay in bed, Julia.” I sighed. “Tonight, you are only allowed out to go to the bathroom.” No amount of pleading got him to change his mind. He held fast. He slept in his own bed that night and I tossed and turned. Partway through the night, he lowered the rail and climbed in behind me.
“You didn't have to do that, Jude.”
“I want to, luv. Now, go to sleep.” I did and slept the rest of the night. The next day, we had a day of rest and relaxation. Jude made me stay in bed except for meals and personal hygiene. He didn't make me sleep the whole time, though. I did sleep a lot, but I also read and talked to him. After supper, he let me go out to the living room to watch a movie. I was starting to feel better, but still fairly weak. “If you do as I say, you'll recover a lot faster, Julia”, he told me.
“I'm starting to see that, Jude.”
We had another early night and once again, he got into bed with me. “Jude, if you are going to continue to sleep with me, perhaps we should sleep in your bed. There's a lot more room.”
“I don't need more room when I'm cuddled up to you, luv. But if you want, we can look for a queen size adjustable bed and try to figure out how to get it in here. Not until you are better, though.”
“I think all we'd have to do is disassemble the frame, then reassemble it when we get it here.”
“Oh, is that all? Piece of cake, right?” he replied, sarcastically.
“Probably not too difficult.” I winked at him.
“Okay, time to go to sleep, Julia. I have a trip to make into town tomorrow.”
The next day, we were up early as Jude wanted to get going right after breakfast. “That way I can be home by lunch time, I hope.” I had given him my list, which was a little longer than just flour and sugar. But shorter than I really wanted it to be. However, I didn't want to ask too much of him - he had done so much for me already. I was hoping he'd let me go in to town soon so that I could get more of what I wanted. In the next year or two, I'd have to learn how to grind our own flour. I already knew how to plant, raise and harvest wheat, as it was one of the crops that Ben and I had grown. I hoped that sugar would last a good, long time as that was a crop that could not be grown in this climate.
Jude set out and I went to the living room and put another log on the fire. I sat down on the sofa to read a book. The dogs had gone with Jude, he didn't want me to have to let them out. I immersed myself in my book. So much so that I did not hear the back door open.
“Well, isn't this a cozy sight?” a male voice said from the doorway. I looked up and over and saw Luke standing there, a gun in his hand pointed right at me.